• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 35

Updated: Feb 1

Day 35 – 30th January 2020

Thanks to all the message senders and well wishers they are great!

So there I am Surat Thani station, my 'oppo' gone to find absolution in a temple somewhere, because there are no bars, and the train is delayed by an hour and fifteen minutes. A crowded station that looked misplaced from the days of the Raj, a hard bench to sit on, waiting for the third train of the day by the looks of it. Still things could be worse… Yeah soon after it turned into ninety minutes delay, then it went to one hundred, and just as I was mixing the arsenic with a resolve tablet and bottled water, the station had a power cut! It was like a Joan Armatrading concert when she sings “Willow” and everybody gets their phones out. The power was back on within two minutes. Feeling refreshed the display board gave us much better news. It was back down to seventy five minutes delay. ‘Yo dude the soldiers are really marching.’ Then it came down to less than an hour, so the time it arrived at 01:13am there was dancing on the platforms. That was until the passengers saw what had turned up. I waved at Casey Jones in the engine as he dawdled past. My coach needed a bus to take me to it. It was that far back, I think I boarded it in a different country.

Then I found my broken seat, permanently in the ready for an operation position. The carriage was entirely (Yes that’s what I said) made of wood. The windows were all open to there fullest because you lost weight just crossing your legs – it was that hot! Then it laboured out of the station, with the new windowless air con coming into its own. When it reached maximum speed every passenger was doing a Bobby Charlton comb-over wave. The carriage then kept knocking the one in front causing ours to jolt when the engine pulled it again. Now the order of the day was wide open mouthed, seal impression snoring, jolting and waking in time to the carriage. That was for everyone. No one achieved as far as I could see, any restful sleep. Then after an hour, the army boarded at some remote station, and commandeered the carriage in front, evicting all its passengers into either ours or the carriage in front. So in a carriage that should have seated perhaps forty we had a further twenty standing. It was as crowded as a Primark sale in the school holidays.

Eventually, the train lumbered into Hat Yai at around seven this morning. Found my lodgings fairly quickly, who told me I couldn’t check in for another three hours. So much for trying to catch up on sleep. I grabbed a coffee on a street corner hoping to settle the adrenalin and make some for of ongoing plan for forward travel tomorrow. That was the easiest thing of all, arranging for a bus to take me to Malaysia tomorrow morning. Penang here I come, I thought until I read my ticket. The cloth eared Thai mama who I had dragged away from her breakfast of boiled starling or some such, had booked me a ticket for Pandong. So I returned and challenged her in the best never mind your bloody breakfast voice I had, for her to stand up, take the pen and cross out Pandong to replace with Penang. That’s no good, how will the bloody bus driver know where he is going? Her daughter, with a less rudimentary command of our sovereign tongue, simply said “Is good – old writing.” Having insisted on a rewritten version with the carbonated copy checked, I left, not entirely satisfied, but feeling better about my British stance in all this. Walking away chuntering, as sometimes we all do.

These are called offerings tables, which are everywhere.

I caught up on my sleep, thankfully, then walked to a night market. This is not a market where they sell things to do with the night, more an ordinary market that remains open at night. Could help but count the number of rats seen scurrying down and around drains tonight. We will see if my rewritten ticket works tomorrow or if I end up in Pandong, wherever that is!

Position: 07°00'08” N 100°28'16”E – Miles completed: 11349

Location: Hat Yai, Thailand 18:42 - 30th January 2020 - Journey 35 days 14 hours

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